From The Feast Goes On by the Monday Morning Cooking Club (HarperCollins Publishers), photo by Alan Benson
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 4 hours 35 minutes
"Childhood memories of my family sharing platters of food in Tel Aviv planted the seed for my deep love of food and family. My parents originally came from Baghdad, and settled in Israel in 1934 when the situation for Iraqi Jews became very difficult. In those days, knowledge of cooking was simply passed down through generations; there was rarely a recipe to follow. It was really about watching, learning, and teaching. I learned from watching my mother, Daisy, and Aunty Violet cook wonderful dishes like kooba bamia (okra stew with meat dumplings), sambusa (triangular filled pastries) and salona (sweet and sour fish). Staple foods were important—when I was growing up there wasn’t much more than those around. But the joy of having your family in one place, sharing a meal, was paramount. I moved to Sydney in 1964…. Once I had my own family and saw how much home cooking is truly appreciated, I was inspired to make bountiful meals for my children and hope I have inspired them to do the same for theirs. This recipe comes from my mother Daisy. In those days they didn’t have an oven, so the slow-cooked dishes were put in the public ovens in the apartment buildings. After synagogue on Saturday the pot was collected and we would come home to a fragrant hot lunch. I still make it for Friday night dinner and and leftovers make an easy and delicious Sunday lunch.…"--Lily Waitsman, contributor to The Feast Goes On
60 milliliter (¼ cup) vegetable oil
1 (2-kilogram/4½-pound) chicken
2 large onions, chopped
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste (concentrated purée)
875 milliliter (3½ cups) water
2 teaspoons sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
660 grams (3 cups) basmati rice
1½ tablespoons baharat spice mix (see Kitchen Tips), plus extra, for sprinkling
- Choose a flameproof casserole dish that is deep enough to hold the whole chicken surrounded by rice.
- Heat the oil in the casserole dish and brown the chicken all over, turning regularly. Set aside. Add the onion and fry over medium heat until pale golden. Add the tomato and tomato paste and stir through. Return the chicken to the dish. Add 500 milliliters (2 cups) of the water, the salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash the rice until the water runs clear. Place the rice in a bowl, cover with water and soak until required. The colour of the rice will change to a chalky white.
- Remove the chicken from the dish and set aside. Taste the onion and tomato mix and add more salt if necessary.
- Preheat the oven to 110°C (225°F/Gas ¼).
- Drain the rice and add to the onion and tomato mixture with the remaining water. Add the baharat and bring to the boil. Return the chicken to the dish, burying it in the rice. Sprinkle a little extra baharat on top, without stirring. Cover the dish, place in the oven and cook, checking from time to time to ensure it is not burning , for 4 hours. A deep golden crust of rice should form on the bottom and sides of the pan.
- To serve, place the chicken in the centre of a large platter. The chicken will fall apart, so you may want to remove some of the smaller bones. Heap the rice around the chicken, carefully arranging any crust on top, if possible.
Notes from the Test Kitchen